So I still need to update y’all on my latest trip to Iceland (!) but until I’ve got the pictures all sorted out, I’ll start with this post. I uploaded a couple Iceland pics on my Instagram though if you are curious, you can check them out here. But last night I saw Dr. Strange with my family while back in the Bay Area for Thanksgiving. And I have to say, it was awesome.
I’ve never read comic books (except for Archie comics come to think of it..) but the Marvel team has done an amazing job turning their comic book heroes into Hollywood movies – my favorites now have to be Deadpool and Dr. Strange. I had absolutely no idea what to expect when we went to see the movie except that it looked a little trippy in the previews. I didn’t know that Dr. Strange’s whole story would be centered around meditation, Buddhism and spirituality.
If you haven’t seen it yet, to sum it up, Dr. Stephen Strange is a highly-skilled neurosurgeon who injures his hands in a terrible car accident and renders them useless. Thus his whole sense of self is lost. He can’t imagine a life where he’s not a neurosurgeon so he embarks on a journey to heal his hands only to find himself drawn into a world of mystical arts founded in mindfulness, meditation and essentially Buddhism, though they don’t say that outright.
Strange makes his way to Kathmandu, Nepal, the birthplace of Buddhism, and becomes a student under “The Ancient One,” who teaches him how to unlock the power of his mind and basically perform magic, bend time and teleport. As he begins his training, two conversations from the movie really resonated with me as I reflect back on my own journey to healing through mindfulness and meditation.
The first is when Dr. Strange asks The Ancient One how he gets “from here to there” meaning from the state he’s at now, to her abilities. She responds with a question “How did you become a doctor?” He replies “study and practice. Years of it.” When starting a new practice or learning a new skill, we all want to accelerate and get from point A to B in a flash. We often become impatient and give up too early because the end result seems too far off.
In these situations, it’s helpful to remember that the key to mastering any skill or craft is just small, simple, daily habits. That’s it. It’s the little steps we take every day that build up and compound over time. Instead of focusing on the far away future we should focus on ourselves, today and in this moment. What small steps can we take today that will help us get to where we want to be in a year or five years? Nothing worth having is easy – but it’s not that it’s hard either, it just takes time, patience, and practice. A useful tip I found when I was working on my weight loss journey is to start with a habit that is so small that it’s impossible NOT to do. This ensures you stick with it instead of giving up.
The second line from the movie that really resonated with me was spoken by Mordo, another student of The Ancient One. He gives Dr. Strange some advice when Strange starts his journey – “forget everything that you think you know.” This is important to me because I often let my pre-conceived notions, judgements or beliefs get in the way of my healing and connection with the Universe and my true self. Instead of surrendering to my higher power (the Universe) and having faith, I try to take control of situations or I find myself doubting and not trusting the guidance of the Universe.
We’re often taught to believe in logic and what is real and in front of us. What is tangible, what we can see, hear and touch. For me, training myself to let go of those beliefs has been hard. It’s hard to trust in something you can’t see and don’t necessarily have proof of. It’s hard to put your trust in something that isn’t you. So to me, “forget everything you think you know” really hit home. When you’re trying to learn something new you need to let go of what you think know in order to learn what’s new. You need to trust fully in the new process and be open to new beliefs and new ways of doing things. If you’re not, you’ll never get to where you want to be. Ask yourself if you’re really open to learning and willing to let go of what you know, or if you’re just going through the motions.
As the movie progresses, we see what Strange and the other characters are capable of doing by using the power of their minds. And I can tell you – it’s pretty fucking cool. But in all seriousness, no we can’t conjure up teleportation portals, weapons or fireballs with our hands and minds, but we can create other types of magic with practice and persistence. From what I’ve read and heard about people who’ve really mastered mindfulness and meditation they’re able to bring about situations and call into their lives people and situations as if by magic, in such synchronistic ways that it couldn’t possibly be considered coincidence.
For example, Gabby Bernstein, in her latest book “The Universe Has Your Back,” tells us about a situation where she has just published her first book and she was out getting coffee with a friend of hers who was looking for work as a book translator. He asked if she knew of anyone in the field and she did – a woman named Setsuko from Japan whom she had met while on a trip in Brazil a few months earlier. She said she would try to think of a way to reach her but she wasn’t in touch so it could be difficult. Then just 15 minutes later she actually ran into Setsuko (who normally lives in Japan) as she was leaving the coffee date!
The synchronicity of this event serves as proof (if you choose to believe) that we can conjure up a little magic in our own lives when we practice meditation and mindfulness. Gabby tells us that “when you tap into the loving frequency of the Universe, you learn to live beyond the limitations of the world and accept good, orderly direction. You surrender your obsession with logic and embrace intuitive direction. You become aware of the great support within you and around you.” We can actually train ourselves to live in a world without traditional limitations, beyond logic or reason, if we practice and believe in the higher power of the Universe.
So How Do We Create the Magic in Our Own Lives?
While I don’t believe in “magic” in the traditional sense, or how it appears in Dr. Strange, I do believe that with practice we can all make some “magic” happen in our own lives. In a way, “magic” can actually be explained as our ability to manipulate our lives through focusing our intentions and harnessing the energy of the Universe.
Through meditation we can learn to quiet the inner voices in our heads that bring about fear, guilt, separation, judgement and actually block us from the every day synchronicities and miracles that occur naturally. Through mindfulness we can practice deliberately focusing our intentions on love and joy which will open us up to receiving miracles and synchronistic moments. I think the most important thing to remember here is not to try too hard on creating the miracles and moments we want to happen. Instead we need to let go and not do anything but simply practice love, joy and alignment with our true selves.
So what can you do today to start making the magic happen in your own life? Start by letting go of what you think you know, begin a small meditation habit (so small that it’s impossible not to do), practice being mindful at least once a day, focusing on the love and joy around you, and then believing that miracles occur naturally every day, we just have to be open and ready to receiving them.
Have you seen Dr. Strange yet? Let me know what you thought in the comments, would love to hear other people’s opinions and perceptions of this unique movie.